Enhancing organizational diversity through process

How Takeda transformed its search for new talent

By | 3 minute read | August 17, 2021

While diversity was already woven into the values and corporate culture at Takeda, the global biopharmaceutical company has been accelerating its efforts towards a more diverse, equitable and inclusive DE&I organization. After partnering with IBM, Takeda evolved its multi-disciplinary and diverse Talent Acquisition team to reimagine its recruiting process and widen the pipeline of qualified applicants. Through a concentrated and consistent approach to embed DE&I throughout the recruiting journey, Takeda’s goal is to expand the diversity of its workforce to better reflect the patients it serves.

The Takeda and IBM team began by ensuring a structured interview process was followed to enhance the talent selection process by creating a consistent, equitable and objective interview process that was sustainable. By starting with the organization’s approach to attracting talent, the team evaluated Takeda’s talent acquisition process from application through acceptance. As part of this methodology, the team also carefully evaluated how to prepare the interview team to effectively debrief and obtain candidate feedback.

Dominique Brewer, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader United States, USBU & GPLS at Takeda, says one of the most common and longstanding recruiting misperceptions is a lack of talent in the supply pipeline. Under this assumption, the recruiting process focused on hiring the strongest talent that was the best fit within the available candidate options, without recognizing the need to challenge this mindset and diagnose the root cause of the talent supply problem. However, by being open to the possibility that the talent pool was much larger if it were expanded to include a more diverse set of candidate backgrounds, Takeda challenged these misconceptions and began making strategic changes to its recruiting approach.

According to Brewer, an unconscious tendency people often have is to sometimes hire from within their immediate networks because it’s perceived to mitigate risk. However, Brewer says hiring people only from within your circle of contacts also limits, rather than expand, the pool of qualified candidates.

“Recruiting only from within your networks actually creates more risk because you are missing opportunities to be innovative by having different interviewing constructs, experiences, knowledge, and evaluation methods,” says Brewer. “The challenge with changing how the organization thinks about recruiting is finding ways to offer a more holistic perspective instead of focusing only on small pockets of opportunity.”

Examining and restructuring the organization’s recruitment and hiring processes took 18 months. When the project was completed, Takeda implemented five changes and initiatives:

  • Competency-based interview guide – Takeda created a structured process that aligns with the company’s values and embeds inclusive behaviors throughout the interview process.
  • Inclusive job descriptions – Takeda began evaluating job descriptions to ensure the recruiting process started with inclusive and optimized descriptions.
  • Diverse cross-functional interview panels – Takeda created employee interview panels to both interview and debrief candidates. These panels include underrepresented groups, as well as employees from other departments.
  • Diversity referral programs – Instead of referred candidates simply hoping that their referral improves their chances, hiring managers are flagged about referrals and those candidates are given higher consideration. Takeda promotes the referral program throughout its diverse network of employee resource groups.
  • Blind resume reviews – Takeda removed identifying characteristics from resumes to minimize unconscious bias and create a more equitable process at the outset.

“Starting with recruiting was just the first step for Takeda,” says Brewer. Brewer says that the key to success is empowering broader employee ownership for advancing diversity, which ultimately strengthens the organization, creating greater opportunities for all and encouraging all employees to bring their full selves with all their unique talents to Takeda.

Through awareness, collaboration, and strategic initiatives, Takeda transformed its recruiting function to more fully integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into its practices. By bringing awareness, advocacy and change to the forefront of its talent acquisition process, Takeda has set the stage to be a truly inclusive organization.